Album Review: Jenny Lewis – The Voyager

Published by JB on July 29, 2014

9/10

“The Voyagers in every boy and girl.
If you wanna get to heaven get out of this world.

from the title track, “The Voyagers” by Jenny Lewis, 2014

As 2014 becomes one of the most epic years for seminal album releases (led largely by the dominating female contingency of St. Vincent, Lykke Li, First Aid Kit, Sharon Van Etten and Lana Del Rey) a 6-year solo absence from Jenny Lewis almost pushed her into the back of our collective minds.   Not anymore.  The Voyager is a devastatingly, wonderful pop record.   While leaning at times towards the alt-country side of Lewis it borrows heavily from the teflon, unbreakable, glossy, slick pop of Under the Blacklight – arguably Rilo Kiley’s best effort.  The Voyager is an eclectic wonder of music-making and maps it onto the Album of the Year discussions in one of many categories.   Hey Beck, you’ve got competition.

It goes without saying that Lewis has held a long-established spot in beloved indie music royalty.  Her life story, her rise to musical fame and her never-ending remarkable talents are damn near storybook status.   She means the same to us today just as Elliott Smith would if he were still alive.  She’s more than a female indie star – she’s a pop star’s pop star.   The only aspect that her new album takes 2nd place to is perhaps her unyielding, stellar catalog and reputation.  When you’re competing against yourself it makes victory that much harder.  The Voyager almost pulls off the impossible.

The Voyager is a 5-piece symphony.  Part 1 is the 3-track album opener with sugary, beautiful, breezy SoCal pop in full glee.  Part 2 becomes a direct, blatant (but lovely) homage to Under the Blacklight with “Slippery Slopes” and “Late Bloomer”.  Part 3 gets into Lewis’s country alter-ego.   Part 4 glides into the most straightforward rock on the album (‘Aloha and the Three Johns’, ‘Love U Forever’).   The 5th and final stanza is three and a half minutes of beautiful folk as the title track concludes the album – complete with backing vocals from the sublime First Aid Kit.

A 38 minute tour de force and calling card for the return of Lewis and her effortless greatness.   How could we have almost forgotten about her?  This is the kind of slap in the face we’ll welcome into our life anytime.

–TWTHS

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